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Explain Davis and Moore's perspective on role allocation and performance.


Social Stratification

 A Level/AS Level/O Level

Free Essay Outline

Outline: Davis and Moore's Perspective on Role Allocation and Performance

This essay will explore Davis and Moore's perspective on social stratification, specifically their theory of role allocation and performance. It will focus on their arguments regarding the functional necessity of inequality for societal stability and efficiency.


Introduce the concept of social stratification and its significance. Briefly mention Davis and Moore’s theory as a functionalist perspective on stratification.

Davis and Moore's Theory

Key Arguments
Summarize the key arguments of Davis and Moore's theory, including:

⭐Functional necessity of inequality: Explain why they believe inequality is essential for societal functioning.
⭐Role allocation and performance: Describe their view on how inequality motivates individuals to fill different roles and perform them effectively.
⭐Differential rewards: Explain their argument about the importance of unequal rewards for motivating individuals to strive for more challenging and important positions.

Supporting Evidence
Provide examples from various societies to support Davis and Moore’s claims.

Criticisms of Davis and Moore's Theory

Examine the criticisms leveled against Davis and Moore’s theory, including:

⭐Ignoring power dynamics: Explain how the theory overlooks the role of power and social relations in shaping stratification.
⭐Circular reasoning: Discuss arguments about how the theory assumes what it seeks to prove (i.e., assuming that inequality is necessary because it exists).
⭐Failure to address inequality's negative consequences: Highlight the criticisms regarding the theory’s failure to acknowledge the potential negative consequences of social stratification, such as social conflict and injustice.


Summarize the key points of the essay. Briefly discuss the significance of Davis and Moore's theory within the broader context of sociological perspectives on social stratification. Acknowledge limitations and offer a concise conclusion.

Free Essay 

The Functionalist Perspective on Role Allocation: Davis and Moore's Theory

Davis and Moore’s 1945 article, "Some Principles of Stratification," offers a functionalist perspective on social stratification, arguing that inequality is a necessary and beneficial feature of society. Their central thesis focuses on the ⭐⭐role allocation⭐⭐ and ⭐⭐performance⭐⭐ necessary for a society to function effectively.

They begin by acknowledging the universal presence of social stratification – the hierarchical arrangement of individuals and groups based on factors like wealth, power, and prestige. They posit that this stratification isn't simply a result of chance or tradition, but serves a crucial ⭐⭐functional⭐⭐ purpose in society.

⭐⭐Here's a breakdown of their key points:⭐⭐

⭐Scarcity of Talent and Motivation:⭐⭐ Davis and Moore argue that certain roles within society require a high degree of talent and skill. These roles are both scarce and difficult to fill, requiring a significant investment of time and effort in education and training. Therefore, society must incentivize individuals to fulfill them.
⭐Differential Rewards:⭐⭐ The solution? Differential rewards. Society offers higher rewards – like wealth, power, and prestige – to individuals who perform these more important and demanding roles. These rewards serve as ⭐⭐incentives⭐⭐ for individuals to strive for these positions and to dedicate themselves to achieving the necessary skills.
⭐Functional Importance:⭐⭐ The importance of a role is not solely determined by its prestige or income, but by its ⭐⭐functional contribution⭐⭐ to the smooth operation of society. Roles deemed essential for the well-being of society, like doctors, engineers, and scientists, are rewarded accordingly.
⭐Meritocracy:⭐⭐ Davis and Moore believe that a system of ⭐⭐meritocracy⭐⭐ underpins this process. Individuals are rewarded based on their abilities, efforts, and achievements, not simply on their social background. While they acknowledge that social mobility can be limited by factors like family background, they emphasize the overarching principle of merit in determining social standing.

⭐⭐Here's an example to illustrate:⭐⭐ A doctor requires years of education and training to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to perform their job effectively. The high rewards associated with this profession – both financial and social – serve as incentives for individuals to dedicate themselves to this demanding field.

⭐⭐Criticisms of Davis and Moore:⭐⭐

While Davis and Moore's theory has been influential, it's not without its critics. Some key criticisms include:

⭐Lack of Empirical Evidence:⭐⭐ Critics argue that there's limited empirical evidence to support the claim that higher-paying jobs are always more functionally significant.
⭐Ignoring Power Dynamics:⭐⭐ This theory fails to address the power dynamics inherent in social stratification. It doesn't acknowledge how privileged groups may manipulate the system to maintain their dominance.
⭐Ignoring Social Inequality:⭐⭐ Critics argue that the theory overlooks the inherent inequalities embedded within society. Factors like race, gender, and socioeconomic background can significantly impact access to opportunities and rewards.


Davis and Moore's functionalist perspective offers a valuable framework for understanding the role of social stratification in society. However, its limitations regarding power dynamics, empirical evidence, and social inequalities must be acknowledged. It's crucial to recognize that social stratification is a complex phenomenon with multifaceted consequences, requiring a nuanced approach that considers multiple perspectives.

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